You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Spectrobes: Beyond the Portals

Disney launched its answer to “Pokemon” last year with “Spectrobes,” a sci-fi themed Nintendo DS game about flying around the galaxy, digging up fossils, reviving them and using the resultant creatures to fight monsters.

Disney launched its answer to “Pokemon” last year with “Spectrobes,” a sci-fi themed Nintendo DS game about flying around the galaxy, digging up fossils, reviving them and using the resultant creatures to fight monsters. The game’s more descriptive Japanese title said it all: “Fossil Super-Evolution Spectrobes.” Now comes the inevitable sequel, which improves the original game considerably by adding better combat, sharper graphics and deeper online features. The Mouse may just have a viable kids franchise on its hands.

“Spectrobes” was Disney’s first attempt to create an original property in the videogame world, and it sold well enough — with more than 1 million units shipped worldwide — to merit a follow-up. “Beyond the Portals” details the further adventures of teenage hero Rallen, who saves the galaxy from the evil Krux and Krawl, who are punching their way into this dimension through mysterious two-way portals. The story is typical Japanese role-playing-game kiddie stuff, giving young players a relatable hero on a simple mission.

Battles in the first “Spectrobes” were a clunky process of scooting Rallen around an enemy flanked by two of his revived creatures and hoping for the best. But fights here are split into two types, each emphasizing more direct control. During exploration, Rallen uses weapons to take out monsters spit out by tornadoes. Once inside the tornados, the spectrobes take over in pairs, which gives the creatures more personality. Some are toe-to-toe bruisers, some are nimble and some are stand-off ranged attackers. It’s a much more exciting way of playing out combat, and it gives the various spectrobes plenty of character. It’s also a complex enough battle system that “Spectrobes: Beyond the Portals” will appeal to some adult RPG fans.

“Spectrobes” stresses exploration and nurturing as much as fighting. After the monsters have been cleared out of an area, it’s time for the videogame equivalent of beachcombing. Players search the area for food for their spectrobes, buried power-ups, and fossils. The excavation minigames are more varied in this sequel, taking into account different types of terrain, such as sand, ice and water.

The games make great use of the Nintendo DS’ stylus and touchscreen, giving things a tactical sensibility that’s particularly appealing to kids. In a lab, players can advance their spectrobes by feeding them, which affords the game an almost maternal aspect. “Spectrobes” isn’t quite built to appeal to girls, but it deserves credit for encouraging boys to do much more than fight.

Japanese developer Jupiter has made significant progress on the visual front from the original, particularly given the Nintendo DS’ limited 3-D graphics. The original game was coarse, blocky and full of prickly character designs with lots of right angles. This time, there’s a great variety of different types of creatures, all expressive and distinct, some of them even borderline cute and cuddly.

“Beyond the Portals” makes a leap forward in online support. There are battles with other players around the world via a wi-fi connection, and spectrobes can be bought and sold through an online auction house using the money earned in the game. This is the second game, after “Prince Caspian,” to support Disney Interactive’s kid-friendly social networking Dgamer, which can be accessed from a web browser or a Nintendo DS. DGamer lets players dress their online avatar in unlockable outfits from “Spectrobes” and tracks their various accomplishments in the game, nicely tying together the benefits of more adult-oriented services like Facebook and Xbox Live in a kid-friendly package.

Spectrobes: Beyond the Portals

Rated E 10+. $30

Production: A Disney Interactive Studios presentation of a game developed by Jupiter for the DS.

More Digital

  • Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers a

    Facebook Reportedly Gave Tech Companies Access to User Data Beyond Disclosures

    Facebook gave tech companies like Amazon, Spotify, and Microsoft more access to user data than the company had previously disclosed. According to a New York Times report, the special arrangements were discovered in internal Facebook documents that track partnerships and were acquired by the Times. The report states that Facebook gave Netflix and Spotify access [...]

  • Eros Now Launches Quickie Original Strand

    Eros Now Launches Quickie Original Strand With 'Date Gone Wrong' (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Date Gone Wrong” is the first of a slate of original short-format video series being produced at Eros Now, the Indian streaming service operated by Eros International. The company plans about 50 series launches in 2019 in its Quickie strand, as part of its recently hinted-at strategy of launching 100 new series on the platform. [...]

  • Oath - Yahoo - AOL -

    Verizon Is Officially Killing the 'Oath' Name

    Oath, we hardly knew ye. Less than two years after Verizon unveiled Oath as the name for the merged AOL-Yahoo internet group, the telco announced that the name will be discontinued, with Oath to be renamed the “Verizon Media Group” as of Jan. 8, 2019. Oath has been a disappointment for Verizon: The telco spent nearly $10 [...]

  • Quibi - Tim Connolly - Jim

    Jeffrey Katzenberg's Quibi Adds Ex-Hulu Execs Tim Connolly, Jim O'Gorman to Management Team

    Quibi, the mobile-TV startup led by Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman, has tapped several Hulu alums among its latest hires. Tim Connolly, formerly senior VP of partnerships and distribution at Hulu, has joined Quibi as head of partnerships and advertising. Jim O’Gorman, previously Hulu’s SVP of talent and organization, is now head of talent and [...]

  • European Union Placeholder

    Europe, Hollywood Hail Landmark E.U. Territorial Licensing Agreement

    Industry organizations and major companies in Europe and Hollywood welcomed Tuesday a high-level European Union agreement that in large part preserves producers’ ability to sell movies and TV shows on an exclusive territory-by-territory basis. Territorial licensing is a financial backbone of the film and TV business in Europe. Recognition of such licensing came last Thursday in [...]

  • Crunchyroll Kun Gao - Joanne Waage

    Crunchyroll Co-Founder Kun Gao Moves Into Advisory Role, Joanne Waage Heads Anime Service as GM

    Kun Gao, co-founder and former general manager of Crunchyroll, has stepped aside from day-to-day management of the anime-streaming service, which is now led by general manager Joanne Waage. According to a Crunchyroll statement, Gao remains “very much involved” with the service as an adviser and is “continuing to work on several projects.” In addition, Gao [...]

  • Charter Communications logo

    Charter Reaches $174 Million Settlement on Internet-Throttling Fraud Suit

    Charter Communications agreed to a settlement valued at $174.2 million to resolve a lawsuit alleging the U.S.’s second-biggest cable operator defrauded broadband customers by failing to deliver promised internet speeds. According to the terms of the settlement with the New York Attorney General’s Office, Charter will pay $62.5 million in direct refunds to 700,000 active broadband [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content